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She shrugged. “Look, I think you ought to go round to the bungalow now and ask him not to come .”
Leon had walked to the shallow end and stood facing her across the gently rocking sheet of oily blue water.
“How can I possibly do that?”
“I don’t care how you do it. Make an excuse.”
“Something’s happened between you.”
“No it hasn’t.”
“Is he bothering you?”
“For God’s sake!”
She got up irritably and walked away, toward the swi nike air max 1 grey mming pool pavilion, an open structure supported by three fluted pillars. She stood, leaning against the central pillar, smoking and watching her brother. Two minutes before, they had been in league and now they were at odds—childhood revisited indeed. Paul Marshall stood halfway between them, turning his head this way and that when they spoke, as though at a tennis match. He had a neutral, vaguely inquisitive air, and seemed untroubled by this sibling squabble. That at least, Cecilia thought, was in his favor.
Her brother said, “You think he ca nike air max 1 n’t hold a knife and fork.”
“Leon, stop it. You had no business inviting him.”
“What rot!”
The silence that followed was partly mitigated by the drone of the filtration pump. There was nothing she could do, nothing she could make Leon do, and she suddenly felt the pointlessness o nike air max 1 leopard f argument. She lolled against the warm stone, lazily finishing her cigarette and contemplating the scene before her—the foreshortened slab of chlorinated water nike air max 1 red , the black inner tube of a tractor tire propped against a deck chair, the two men in cream linen suits of infinitesimally different hues, bluish-gray smoke rising against the bamboo green. It looked carved, fixed, and again, she felt it: it had happened a long time ago, and all outcomes, on all scales—from the tiniest to the most colossal—were already in place. Whatever happened in the future, however superficially strange or shocking, w nike air max 1 premium ould also have an unsurprising, familiar quality, inviting her to say, but only to herself, Oh yes, of course. That. I should have known.
She said lightly, “D’you know what I think?”
“What’s that?”
“We should go indoors, and you should mix us a fancy kind of drink.”
Paul Marshall banged his hands together and the sound ricocheted between the columns air max 1 and the back wall of the pavilion. “There’s something I do rather well,” he called. “With crushed ice, rum and melted dark chocolate.”
The suggestion prompted an exchange of glances between Cecilia and her brother, and thus their discord was resolved. Leon was already moving away, and as Cecilia and Paul Marshall followed him and converged on the gap in the thicket she said, “I’d rather have something bitter. Or even sour.”
He smiled, and since he had reached the gap first, he paused to hand her through, as though it were a drawing room doorway, and as she passed she felt him touch her lightly on her forearm.
Or it may have been a leaf.
Part 1 Chapter 5
NEITHER THE twins nor Lola knew precisely what led Briony to abandon the rehearsals. At th nike air max 1 e time, they did not even know she had. They were doing the sickbed scene, the one in which bed-bound Arabella first receives into her garret the prince disguised as the good doctor, and it was going well enough, or no worse than usual, with the twins speaking their lines no more ineptly than before. As for Lola, she didn’t wish to dirty her cashmere by lying on the floor, and instead slumped in a chair, and the director could hardly object to that. The older girl entered so fully into the spirit of her own aloof compliance that she felt beyond reproach. One moment, Briony was giving patient instructions to Jackson, then she paused, and frowned, as if about to correct cheap nike air max 1 herself, and then she was gone. There was no pivotal moment of creative difference, no storming or flouncing out. She turned away, and simply drifted out, as though on her way to the lavatory. The others waited, unaware that the whole project was at an end. The twins thought they had been trying hard, and Jackson in particular, feeling he was still in disgrace in the Tallis household, thought he might begin to rehabilitate himself by pleasing Briony.
While they waited, the boys played football with a wooden bric nike air max 1 ebay k and their sister gazed out the window, humming softly to herself. After an immeasurable period of time, she went out into the corridor and along to the end where there was an open door to an unused bedroom. From here she had a view of the driveway and the lake across which lay a column of shimmering phosphorescence, white hot from the fierce late afternoon heat. Against this column she could just make out Briony beyond the island temple, standing right by the water’s edge. In fact, she may even have been standing in the water—against such light it was difficult to tell. She did not look as if she was about to come back. On her way out of the room, Lola noticed by the bed a masculine-looking suitcase of tan leather and heavy straps and faded steamer labels. It reminded her vaguely of her father, and she paused by it, and caught the faint sooty scent of a railway carriage. She put her thumb against one of the locks and slid it. The polished metal was cool, and her touch left little patches of shrinking condensation. The clasp cheap air max 1 startled her as it sprang up with a loud chunky sound. She pushed it back and hurried from the room.
There followed more formless time for the cousins. Lola sent the twins down to see if the pool was free—they felt uneasy being there when adults were present. The twins returned to report that Cecilia was there with two other grown-ups, but by now Lola was not in the nursery. She was in her tiny bedroom, arrang nike air max 1 black ing her hair in front of a hand mirror propped against the windowsill. The boys lay on her narrow bed, and tickled each other, and wrestled, and made loud howling noises. She could not be bothered to send them to their own room. Now there was no play, and the pool was not available, unstructured time oppressed them. Homesickness fell upon them when Pierrot said he was hungry—dinner was hours away, and it would not be proper to go down now and ask for food. Besides, the boys would not go in the kitchen because they were terrified of Betty whom they had seen on the stairs grimly carrying red rubber sheets toward their room.
A little later the three found themselves back in the nursery which, apart from the bedrooms, was the only room they felt they had a right to be in. The scuffed blue brick was where they had left it, an cheap air max 1 d everything was as before.
They stood about and Jackson said, “I don’t like it here.”
The simplicity of the remark unhinged his brother who went by a wall and found something of interest in the skirting board which he worried with the tip of his shoe.
Lola put her arm across his shoulder and said, “It’s all right. We’ll be going home soon.” Her arm was much thinner and lighter than his mother’s and Pierrot began to sob, but quietly, still mindful of being in a strange house where politeness was all.
Jackson was tearful too, but he was still capable of speech. “It won’t be soon. You’re just saying that. We can’t go home anyway . . .” He paused to gather his courage. “It’s a divorce!”
Pierrot and Lola froze. The word had never been used in front of the children, and never uttered by them. The soft consonants suggested an nike air max 1 sale unthinkable obscenity, the sibilant ending whispered the family’s shame. Jackson himself looked distraught as the word left him, but no wishing could bring it back now, and for all he could tell, saying it out loud was as great a crime as the act itself, whatever that was. None of them, including Lola, quite knew. She was advancing on him, her green eyes narrowed like a cat’s.
“How dare you say that.” ③

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